Manoharan Mudaliar

Cyber Security Consultant

What Is Endpoint Security Monitoring and Why Is It So Important Right Now?

Cyber attack on a remote endpoint device

COVID-19 has left organizations across the world in a spot of bother. Many organizations have been forced into adapting mass remote working schedules, almost on an overnight basis. With such a sudden and necessary shift to remote work, it can be argued that endpoint security is needed more desperately now than it ever was in the past.

For years, organizations threw austerity out the window to lavishly spend on securing their traditional security parameters. However, the investments have vanished right in front of our eyes, as we adjust to a more remote pattern of work, keeping the desperate times of today in mind.

The transition to remote work online has increased the challenges and complications faced by security teams working day and night to defend their organizations’ honor against online cyber attacks. The challenge of cyber security has been made even harder with the ever-evolving techniques used by attackers.

In this blog we explore the concept of endpoint security for businesses looking to build on their endpoint monitoring capabilities. We also shed some light on the options available for businesses on this front.

What Is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security usually refers to the protection of all internet-connected devices within a system from cyber threats and cyber attackers. Basic endpoints include workstations, PCs, smartphones, servers, tablets and IoT devices/applications.

Organizations realize how the sophistication and volume of cyber threats has evolved to make them more vulnerable than they previously were. This reinforces the importance of cyber security measures for businesses. For years, organizations have relied on antivirus software solutions across the board to secure all endpoints but recent research might raise questions over the authenticity of antivirus software solutions and what they actually do to negate cyber attacks.

A recent study by researchers at Ponemon Institute suggested that the confidence most business leaders had in traditional antivirus solutions is slowly and gradually declining. Most antivirus solutions block only 40 percent of all attacks, leaving your systems vulnerable to the remaining 30 percent of attacks. Antivirus software solutions still remain essential, but relying on them alone can leave organizations vulnerable to threats such as polymorphic and memory-resident malware.

Effective endpoint security goes above and beyond just signature-based detection techniques. Keeping in mind the evolving nature of cyber attacks, cyber security experts go for a deeper and more intricate level of detection utilizing behavioral analytics among many other techniques. To effortlessly detect, monitor and negate online cyber attacks, organizations today have to opt for tools such as Endpoint Protections Platforms EPP and Endpoint Detection and Response EDR.

What Makes Endpoint Security So Important?

With remote work becoming a norm in the world today, corporations have no other choice but to allow employees to seamlessly connect to corporate networks from remote places. With government restrictions in place, organizations have no option but to make remote work a possibility. However, every device that is connected to your organization’s network presents a problem of its own.

When employees work from their homes, they are usually outside of the corporate firewall that can detect, monitor and block all outgoing and incoming communication to and from endpoint devices. Many organizations consider the use of Virtual Private Networks or VPN a possible form of protection, but ensuring all employees continuously use VPNs with regularity can be a bit of a challenge.

Most endpoint devices offer an easy passageway for cyber attackers to get inside a firm’s network. Endpoint devices have become attractive options for cyber criminals to initiate their attack. These devices usually have numerous unpatched software vulnerabilities and are being used by employees who are highly susceptible to phishing attacks. Phishing is the most common attacker vector used to gain access to endpoint systems.

An increasing number of attacks today are specifically configured to target and extract vulnerabilities in endpoint systems. These attacks also look to gain unauthorized access to the company’s network by installing malicious malware. The burgeoning growth of endpoint devices during this period has increased the opportunities available for adversaries and attackers to launch cyber attacks. Additionally, the growing transition of data towards SaaS and cloud hosting only complicates these challenges further. Research by the Ponemon Institute has revealed that the average costs of a single attack on an endpoint device are upwards of $7 million. This is almost twice the damage that a general data breach can cause.

The disruption and significant damages caused by endpoint attacks make it even more critical for organizations to develop an incident response strategy. Endpoint security is extremely important as it helps organizations reduce the response time it takes to detect and nip cyber attacks in the bud. Tools like EDR come with advanced technology to help automate the response action taken by endpoint devices. Immediate response action can include the isolation of an infected endpoint device from the organizational network to limit the spread of the attack and to ensure that breaches are shut down with minimal damage.

Gartner has predicted that by the end of 2020, almost 70 percent of organizations with more than 5,000 endpoint devices would have an EDR software solution installed with them.

What Is Endpoint Monitoring?

Endpoint monitoring is all about mitigating the risks of attacks on endpoint devices. Organizational security teams should always keep a check on all endpoint devices. All devices connected to the corporate network should be ideally monitored and measures should be in place to identify and shut down all malicious threats targeting the network as a whole.

In simpler terms, endpoint monitoring can be defined as the process to analyze endpoint behaviors across all devices to identify any and all signs of malicious activity and to eventually respond to them in a fitting manner. Endpoint monitoring can typically be achieved by establishing the right strategy for what constitutes as normal behavior, any anomalies or deviations from normal behavior should be identified and restricted.

EDR technologies can come in handy to facilitate endpoint monitoring protocols. All important endpoint events, such as file changes and registry, should be reported. Eventually, any deviations from the actual environment are pinpointed as suspicious activities and are studied in greater detail.

Challenges in Endpoint Security Monitoring

Endpoint security monitoring heavily depends on early detection of attacks. Early detection of all endpoint security attacks is vital for organizations. However, without a dedicated team of established security experts to manage EDR systems and other endpoint monitoring technologies on a consistent basis, corporations will fail to achieve the outcomes they wish for these tools to deliver. A team of dedicated individuals is a must if you want your endpoint security network to deliver the goods.

Endpoint monitoring solutions run through a huge amount of significant data. And, the higher the number of applications and devices being managed, the more alerts you are bound to receive. The continuous inflow of alerts and feedback can cause major complications and complexities for in-house teams. Many in-house security teams do not have the acumen or the training to make sense of these threats as they come at a rate of knots.

Additionally, organizations can get the most out of endpoint monitoring solutions like EDR, if they have a good enough understanding of threat intelligence. Most EDR solutions, or any other endpoint monitoring solution for that matter, will not give you the guidelines you need on threat intelligence out of the box. Specialist expertise is required to tune the chosen technologies and configure them. The solutions have to be configured according to the organization’s specific risk profile, and this is something only an expert can manage.

Without proper manpower, alert fatigue is also a possibility. Expensive technologies can go to waste if you don’t have the resources to recognize the messages they display. In an attempt to reduce these complications, organizations are looking for external help to not only help implement endpoint security monitoring solutions, but to also make sense of the alerts they send.

Managed Endpoint Monitoring

Critically enlisting assistance from an external specialized provider can help organizations develop the right threat hunting environment. Organizations looking to elevate their ability to detect, monitor and remediate endpoint threats need external assistance for the job.

Organizations can combine capital and human resources to seek out all threats that somehow bypass all current defenses. Threat hunting can improve your readiness against attacks and can also ensure that you are ready to shut down threats in their infancy when push comes to shove.

A cyber security consultant can help improve your endpoint security monitoring. I’m a certified information security manager with extensive experience in helping organizations from various industries devise cyber security protocols and measures to ward off sophisticated and invasive cyber threats.